Friday, May 11, 2012

Blueberry Lemon Cornmeal Cake

Spring has arrived! There's more variety of fruit available at the markets this week. I’m patiently waiting just a bit to let the season unfold with more ripened specimens. But I’ve got blueberries on my table once again and they are really juicy and delicious. This time they found their way into a great little brunch or dessert cake from Abigail Johnson Dodge. It’s an easy recipe that delivers a very tender cake with a topping of beautiful fresh fruit. There’s a slight texture of cornmeal and a tang of lemon, buttermilk and fresh blueberries, which is definitely a winning combo in my book.

The recipe is very good as is, but I wanted the fruit to be jammy. So rather than follow the instructions for the blueberries, I cooked them just until juicy, gave them a spritz of lemon and set them aside to cool. I placed dollops of them into the cake batter and baked the cake. Then I spooned the remainder of the compote over the top of each slice as it's served.

If you desire a really wonderful burst of blueberries, this is a great way to play it out - a bright yellow cake with the deep ink stain of blueberries to dazzle your table. Super simple and truly satisfying.

Bench notes:
- I use a 9” square pan and bake the cake for 26 minutes. Line it with an overhang of parchment to make it easy to remove.
- I wanted a little bit more texture and corn flavor so I changed the ratio of flour and cornmeal just a little bit. I used 1 1/4 C flour and 1/3 C cornmeal.
- If you’d like to replicate my changes for the blueberries, prepare the filling as follows: 1 1/2 C fresh blueberries; 2 T – 2 1/2 T sugar, to taste; 1 1/2 T water; 1/2 star anise; 3/4 t cornstarch + 3/4 t cold water; 3/4 t lemon juice. Place the blueberries in a saucepan and add sugar, water and star anise. Simmer on low heat for 2 – 3 minutes. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and stir into blueberries. Add the lemon juice. Cook for another 2 – 3 minutes, stirring to keep from scorching. Remove the star anise and set aside to cool and thicken. When you’ve poured the cake batter into the prepared pan and smoothed it out evenly, dollop a tablespoon of the filling into the cake batter in 8 – 9 places. Reserve the remaining blueberries to garnish the cake slices.
- Finely ground cornmeal works best in this cake. The result is a really tender crumb.
- When you add the lemon juice to the cake batter it may appear curdled. Don’t worry; it will all come together when you add the dry ingredients.

Blueberry Lemon Cornmeal Cake
adapted from Abigail Johnson Dodge at Fine Cooking
Served 8 - 10

1 1/3 C flour
1/4 C finely ground yellow cornmeal
1 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
3 oz (6 T) butter @ room temperature
1 C sugar
1 t lemon zest
2 eggs @ room temperature
1 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 C buttermilk @ room temperature

For the topping

1 C (about 5 oz) fresh blueberries
1 T granulated sugar
1 T flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9" x 2 1/2" cake pan and line the bottom with parchment.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium speed until thoroughly blended and scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the lemon juice and combine. Scrape down the bowl.

Lower the speed and add half the dry ingredients. Mix just until it starts to blend together. Add the buttermilk and combine. Add the remaining dry ingredients, mixing just until there are a few flour streaks remaining. Finish the mixing by hand using a rubber spatula, making sure you've thoroughly scraped the bottom of the bowl. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the topping.

Combine the blueberries, sugar and flour in a small bowl. Mix together, lightly crushing the blueberries and evenly coating them with the flour and sugar. After the cake has baked for 15 minutes, slide the oven rack out and quickly scatter the blueberries evenly over the top of the cake. Discard any flour and sugar that doesn't adhere to the berries. Continue baking until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 23- 25 minutes.

Let the cake cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert the cake. Lift the pan off and peel away the parchment. Lay a flat serving plate on the bottom of the cake and invert again. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Vegan Magic said...

This cake looks absolutely fabulous! I've made a vegan and gluten-free version and loved it. I've blogged about it and linked back to your page. Thank you so much for sharing this inspiring recipe.

PS Your collection of cake recipes is probably the best I've seen!

pastry studio said...

Thanks so much for your link back and your sweet comment. Your cake looks divine! So glad you were able to customize it to your own specifications. Cheers!